Daily Archives: January 3, 2020

January—3 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

He showed unto them his hands and his side.—John 20:20.

My Lord and my God! I would say, while thou openest to me such a view, and while I would look into and read thine heart in it. And what was such a display designed for, dearest Lord? I think thou hast taught me to discover. Was it not as if Jesus had said, “See here the marks of your sure redemption. From hence issued the blood that hath cleansed you from all sin. And this blood hath a voice. It is speaking blood, which speaketh better things than that of Abel. For his blood cried for vengeance, mine for pardon. It speaketh for thee to my Father of his covenant promises. And it speaketh to thee from my Father of thy sure acceptance in my salvation.”—Neither was this all. For surely, dearest Jesus, when thou showedst thine hands and thy side, it was also as if thou hadst said, “See here an opening to my heart. Here put in all you wish to tell my Father, and I will bear it to him with all my warmest affections. And let all my disciples, in every age of my Church, do this. I will be the bearer of all their suits. And sure they may be, both of my love and of my success for them; for I will carry all that concerns them in this opening to my heart.” Precious Lord! cause me often to view with the eye of faith this gracious interview of thine with thy disciples. And as in the evening of the day, the disciples were thus favoured with thy presence, and so rich a manifestation of thy love, so, Lord, make me to realize the scene afresh, and very often in the silence of the night may my soul be going forth in the full enjoyment of this spiritual blessing! Yea, Jesus! let me behold thine hands and thy side, and learn day by day to put therein all I would tell my God and Father of thy great salvation, and my firm reliance upon it; until from a life of faith I come to enter upon a life of absolute enjoyment, and behold thee still as the Lamb that hath been slain for the redemption of thy people, in the midst of the throne, leading the church to living fountains of waters, where all tears are wiped away from all eyes.[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, p. 5). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

January 3 Streams in the Desert

I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure.” (Gen. 33:14)

WHAT a beautiful picture of Jacob’s thoughtfulness for the cattle and the children! He would not allow them to be overdriven even for one day. He would not lead on according to what a strong man like Esau could do and expected them to do, but only according to what they were able to endure. He knew exactly how far they could go in a day; and he made that his only consideration in arranging the marches. He had gone the same wilderness journey years before, and knew all about its roughness and heat and length, by personal experience. And so he said, “I will lead on softly.” “For ye have not passed this way heretofore.” (Josh. 3:4.)

We have not passed this way heretofore, but the Lord Jesus has. It is all untrodden and unknown ground to us, but He knows it all by personal experience. The steep bits that take away our breath, the stony bits that make our feet ache so, the hot shadeless stretches that make us feel so exhausted, the rushing rivers that we have to pass through—Jesus has gone through it all before us. “He was wearied with his journey.” Not some, but all the many waters went over Him, and yet did not quench His love. He was made a perfect Leader by the things which He suffered. “He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Think of that when you are tempted to question the gentleness of His leading. He is remembering all the time; and not one step will He make you take beyond what your foot is able to endure. Never mind if you think it will not be able for the step that seems to come next; either He will so strengthen it that it shall be able, or He will call a sudden halt, and you shall not have to take it at all.—Frances Ridley Havergal.

In “pastures green”? Not always; sometimes He

Who knowest best, in kindness leadeth me

In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.

So, whether on the hill-tops high and fair

I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where

The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.

Barry.[1]

 

[1] Cowman, L. B. (1925). Streams in the Desert (pp. 3–4). Los Angeles, CA: The Oriental Missionary Society.

Our Best Life is Yet to Come — Unfathomable Grace

Genesis 12:1-3     Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”



God called Abram from his idolatry and into communion with Himself
. God revealed himself, and from that point Abram began building altars and calling upon the name of the Lord.

God called Abram to receive an eternally blessed future. Someday, he would enjoy the land of promise. Someday, he would be part of one fantastic kingdom. Someday, his name and family line would be famous. Someday, he would participate in blessing all the nations. He would be victorious, and those who were found opposing his clan, they were destined to be cursed.

Abram never received this in his own life. No person or nation has received this promise in its entirety yet. How fantastic it will be in the New Heavens and New Earth when all Abram’s elect, redeemed, converted, and multiethnic children will forever enjoy the Kingdom of Christ in its final installment.

God called Abram experience many struggles and difficulties. However, until the time when God would ultimately fulfill his promise, Abram would encounter many struggles. Following the leading of his Lord, Abram and his covenant family would experience:

  • Leaving his homeland
  • Separating from family members
  • Lacking knowledge of exactly where he was headed
  • Physical disabilities
  • Personal failure of faith
  • Personal abuse of Sarah
  • Personal disbelief of God’s truthfulness
  • Internal family strife
  • War between clans
  • Strife between children
  • Future enslavement of his family for 400 years

For many who are in Christ Jesus, a multitude of delights are enjoyed on this earth. For some reason, God makes life on this earth relatively easy for some.  How fantastic it is to be blessed by God with health, wealth, community, peace, and prosperity.

For many who are in Christ Jesus, a multitude of sorrows are “unenjoyed” on this earth. For some reason, God makes life on this earth relatively hellish for some as they are blessed with sickness, poverty, loneliness, strife, and plight.

photo-1536960242068-96914a09214cTherefore friends, think it not strange that while coming to know Jesus as your Savior, learning from his Word, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, enjoying his spiritual benefits, experiencing some temporal prosperity, and waiting for the fulfillment of the fantastic promises of God, you greatly struggle and suffer.

Such was the reality of Father Abraham.

Such was the reality of his greatest Son — Jesus Christ,.

Such was the reality of countless Christians throughout the centuries.

Such is the reality of brothers and sisters in the U.S. and abroad.

Friends, enjoy Jesus and all his benefits today, but keep your eye on the horizon. Our best life is yet to come.

via Our Best Life is Yet to Come — Unfathomable Grace

January 3 Life-Changing Moments With God

He led them forth by the right way.

 

In the wasteland, a howling wilderness, You encircled Jacob, You instructed him, You kept him as the apple of Your eye. As an eagle … hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings, so You alone, Lord, led him. Even to my old age, You are He, and even to gray hairs You will carry me! You have made, and You will bear; even You will carry, and will deliver me.

You restore my soul; You lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You, Lord, will guide me continually, and satisfy my soul in drought, and strengthen my bones; I shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. For this is God, my God forever and ever; You will be my guide even to death. None teaches like You!

I face so many decisions—big and little—in the course of the day, Lord. Enable me to keep my eyes on You, who will lead me exactly where You want me to go.

Psalm 107:7; Deuteronomy 32:10–12; Isaiah 46:4; Psalm 23:3–4; Isaiah 58:11; Psalm 48:14; Job 36:22[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 12). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

The death of Qassem Soleimani: What it means, what comes next, and how Christians can respond — Denison Forum

Listen to The Daily Article Podcast, then subscribe.

The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps was killed early Friday in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport authorized by President Trump. An American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy leaving the airport, killing Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and several officials from Iraqi militias backed by Tehran.

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper explained the action: “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region. General Soleimani and his Quds force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.

“He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months—including the attack on December 27th—culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. General Soleimani also approved the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad that took place this week.”

Who was Qassem Soleimani? 

Qassem Soleimani was an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Since 1998, he commanded the Quds force responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deemed Soleimani equally as dangerous as Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In April 2019, the State Department announced that Iran was responsible for killing 608 American troops during the Iraq War. They determined that 17 percent of all US personnel deaths in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 were orchestrated by Soleimani.

A BBC analyst notes that Soleimani was seen as “the mastermind behind Iran’s vast ambition in the Middle East, and the country’s real foreign minister when it came to matters of war and peace.” Soleimani was “widely considered a principal architect of President Bashar al-Assad’s war in Syria, the ongoing conflict in Iraq, the fight against Islamic State, and many battles beyond.”

According to CNN, the significance of Soleimani’s death “cannot be overstated.” An analyst for MSNBC calls him “the world’s number one bad guy.” He states that the killing of Soleimani “means much more in terms of saving current lives” than even the deaths of Osama bin Laden and ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

What led to the attack? 

In June 2019, the Iranians shot down an American surveillance drone. Three months later, a barrage of missiles and drones targeted two of the world’s most important oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Last Friday, the US blamed an Iranian-backed militia for an attack that killed a US contractor and wounded four US service members. On Sunday, the US carried out airstrikes that were said to have killed at least twenty-five militia members. Demonstrators, including members of that Iranian-backed militia, then stormed the US Embassy compound in Baghdad. Gen. Soleimani reportedly orchestrated these militia activities.

Last Tuesday, the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division was told to plan for possible deployment to Kuwait, placing as many as four thousand troops on standby. Soldiers from this division arrived in Kuwait hours before the airstrike that killed Gen. Soleimani.

What comes next? 

The New York Times calls Soleimani’s death “a staggering blow for Iran at a time of sweeping geopolitical conflict” and “a serious escalation of Mr. Trump’s growing confrontation with Tehran.” The Washington Examiner describes Soleimani’s death as “a monumental event and great news for the United States and the countless victims of his strategy that has unleashed death and chaos throughout the Middle East.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the US after the airstrike. The US has urged its citizens to leave Iraq “immediately.” CNN speculates that American forces in Syria and its allies in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia could “fall victim to Iranian retaliatory measures.” The Associated Press adds that Iran’s allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Gaza could be mobilized.

The Washington Examiner states that “a global terrorist campaign of uncertain duration is likely. In the context of Iranian domestic political instability and deep economic pressures on the regime, Iran might also use this killing as an excuse to destabilize oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz. Each of those developments would require immediate American deterrent response.”

The path to true peace 

The future is known to no one but God (cf. Isaiah 46:10). Our responsibility as God’s people is to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1–2) and to work for both justice (Amos 5:24) and peace (Matthew 5:9) while seeking to lead all people to the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

As C. S. Lewis notes, “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”

We cannot give the world what we do not have. In these tremulous times, our peace can be a powerful witness to a skeptical culture. Here’s the path to such peace: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).

No matter what is happening in the world, in every circumstance and challenge we can have the “peace of God” today.

Do you?

NOTE: Are you a pastor or church leader? Our new ministry of support and encouragement for you will offer free resources and a monthly teleconference with Pastor Mark Turman and me. A Pastor’s View launches on Tuesday, Jan. 7. To join our email list, I invite you to subscribe to A Pastor’s View here.

 

via The death of Qassem Soleimani: What it means, what comes next, and how Christians can respond — Denison Forum

Understanding Three Phases of Salvation — Counseling One Another

In order to know where you are in the Christian life you need to know where you have been and where you are going. To make progress in Christ you need to understand the three phases of salvation.

If you want to make measurable progress in Christ in 2020 take time to listen to last Sunday’s sermon, Understanding the Three Phases of Salvation.

via Understanding Three Phases of Salvation — Counseling One Another

Why Are Progressive Christians Attracted to Universalism? How a Distorted View of God Distorts Our View of Good — Credo Magazine

The new issue of Credo Magazine focuses on the question, “Will all be saved?” The following is an excerpt from Scott Smith’s article, “Why Are Progressive Christians Attracted to Universalism? How a Distorted View of God Distorts Our View of Good?” Scott Smith received his Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from the University of Southern California and serves as a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University. He is the author of Authentically Emergent: In Search of a Truly Progressive Christianity (Cascade Books, 2018), and other books and essay. Smith has written extensively on the truth claims of the emergent church movement.


Why does it seem progressive Christians are drawn to a universal salvation for all people? There could be several reasons, such as religious pluralism, on which everyone has their own interpretations of God (or, “religious reality”). The key to “salvation” on such a view is moral transformation, which is possible in all the world religions.

Still, there could be other reasons for this attraction. It might be a reaction against evangelicals’ exclusive claim that Jesus is the only way to God, which might strike some progressives as imperialistic. In addition, it might be due to shifts in their views of the nature of what is real regarding human beings, sin, our core need, and more.

Now, all these positions are involved with a particular group of progressives who used to be called “emergents,” namely, Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell. Since the emerging church faded from evangelicals’ attention, their influence has morphed and actually grown. They now have greater platforms for communicating their views.[1] Moreover, they have embraced being progressives. I think their views can provide an example for us of why progressives are attracted to universalism.

To help explore this question, first I will sketch some of their newer, pertinent views that illustrate how they fit with universalism. These positions will include not only their epistemological views, but also, even more importantly, their shifts away from traditional, orthodox Christian positions of the nature of what is real to a holistic, panentheistic view of God and His creation.[2] Second, I will assess selected views, offering some suggestions for how to respond to these points.[3]

Emergents 2.0

McLaren and these former emergents argue that everyone has a particular standpoint from which they come to interpret and know the world. Moreover, we are shaped, or “situated,” so deeply by our cultural and familial upbringing, life experiences, historical location, and more that we cannot gain a universal, unbiased viewpoint and know reality as it truly is, even about the truth of Christianity. Instead, all people interpret what is real from their respective interpretive “grids.”

Religiously, then, Christians, as well as Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and everyone else have their own interpretations of God (or, “religious reality”), and no one has direct access to the truth (i.e., the way things really are) religiously. This view is much like that of John Hick, one of the founders of religious pluralism.[4] Though religions have their various interpretations, still, for Hick all religions aim at moral transformation, and so he redefines salvation as such. However, he claims Christians do not exhibit superior moral lives than that of other religious adherents. Thus, “salvation” is available in all the world religions.

For McLaren, moral transformation occurs as people live out Jesus’ story. As such, “salvation” is not limited to just those who identify as Christians. There can be Muslims, Jews, and Christians throwing a party in heaven; there can be Buddhist Christians; and more.[5]

In A New Kind of Christianity, Brian McLaren also claims the gospel we have received has been corrupted by Greco-Roman and modern influences.[6] One corrupting factor is the adoption of many dualisms, such as body vs. soul, heaven vs. hell, saved vs. unsaved, civilized vs. barbarians, and many more. According to him, Greek thinking introduced these many dualisms, and particularly body-soul dualism undermines what he sees as the Jewish emphasis upon the unity of the whole person.[7]

For McLaren, many Christians’ emphasis upon saving the soul so it goes to heaven when the body dies is linked to the (supposed) Platonic emphasis of the inherent superiority of the immaterial over the material.[8] However, these attitudes denigrate the body as God’s good creation, implicitly treating it as bad. Moreover, he thinks souls are static and therefore cannot grow, change, or have stories told about them.[9]

Instead of humans being a unity of body and soul (i.e., material and immaterial), McLaren and others adopt a holistic, physicalist view of humans. On this view, humans are made of one kind of thing, namely, physical stuff.[10] Instead of an essential nature (the soul) uniting all our parts, now our unity is found in our narrative, which is to be shaped according to the master story of the Christian community, the story of Jesus.[11] Unlike souls, our stories develop as we become more like Christ.

If humans are just physical beings, then several other core doctrines would seem to need to be changed. For instance, sin cannot be fundamentally a soulish problem that corrupts the entire person. Now, the Bible speaks of the heart (the core of our being; that from which we truly live, will, and more) as more deceitful than all else and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). Moreover, the wages of sin is death, i.e., separation from God, and eventually physical death (Rom. 6:23). However, as Pagitt explains, sin is a matter of disintegration of relationships, of ourselves in relation to one another, creation, and God. For him and others, original sin is a mistaken doctrine.[12] It is not that sin separates us from God; instead, we are already “in” God.

*Read Dr. Smith’s entire article in the latest issue: Will all be Saved?

via Why Are Progressive Christians Attracted to Universalism? How a Distorted View of God Distorts Our View of Good — Credo Magazine

S&P 500 Index Tests Long-Term Fibonacci Price Extension As New Year Begins — Kimble Charting Solutions

Is the bull market getting long in the tooth?

Could the S&P 500 Index rally be nearing an end?

Okay now that we have the bears attention, let’s face the facts: This is a bull market (until proven otherwise). And the bull market isn’t going anywhere until we see trend lines break down.

With that being said, the stock market rally is nearing an important price juncture.

The S&P 500 is testing a key Fibonacci extension price level at 3252.

This Fibonacci extension level comes from the 2018/2019 weekly closing highs and lows. A breakout above this level on a weekly basis will send a bullish message to the market, while a stalling out near this level will signal that this bull is taking a rest. Only a break down below the up-trend line will signal caution. Stay tuned!

This article was first written for See It Markets.com. To see original post CLICK HERE

via S&P 500 Index Tests Long-Term Fibonacci Price Extension As New Year Begins — Kimble Charting Solutions

MIke Huckabee talks Beth Moore, Christianity Today & Elite Evangelicals — Capstone Report

Southern Baptist Mike Huckabee wants Never Trump Evangelical Elites to explain which Democrat would be superior to Donald Trump.

Mike Huckabee challenged Never Trump Evangelical Elites to explain which Democrat presidential candidate in 2016 or 2020 would be superior to Donald Trump. He appeared on the Todd Starnes Radio Show and answered a question about Never Trumpers Beth Moore and Mark Galli of Christianity Today. Huckabee replied in strong terms.

“I want him to name which of the Democrat candidates he would’ve preferred to be in the White House and to tell me how moral Hillary Clinton is….be sure to explain to me the morality of some of the other Democrats. Why they are somehow morally superior because I must’ve missed that.”

To make the point clearly: “They are not choir boys and choir girls,” Huckabee said of the Democratic field of presidential candidates.

Huckabee knows that is a powerful critique of the triteness of the Never Trump position. Embracing Never Trumpism would result in even more abortions and reduced religious liberty. So, why are these so-called evangelicals working against good policies and furthering evil?

Also, Huckabee explained why average evangelical Christians support Donald Trump and refuse to follow Never Trump Elite Evangelicals.

“I think for most of us as evangelicals, we don’t follow Donald Trump—we follow Jesus,” Huckabee said. “We elect a President. And we kind of like one who respects religious liberty and certainly that honors the sanctity of every human life…and supports Israel.”

Huckabee defended President Trump’s decisive action to protect American lives

Huckabee praised the decisive action of Donald Trump and the Trump Administration for eliminating a dangerous terrorist. Huckabee praised Trump’s strong move to stop aggressive action against the US and its embassies.

Huckabee addressed the anti-American sentiment coming out of the Democratic Party following Trump’s move against terrorists.

Of the Democratic Squad, Huckabee said their attacks on the president aren’t surprising since, “They pretty much hate America as we love it and they hate Israel,” Huckabee said. “They are antisemitic. They don’t want anything happening to the people of Iran.”

via MIke Huckabee talks Beth Moore, Christianity Today & Elite Evangelicals — Capstone Report

January 3, 2020 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

REUTERS

President Donald Trump will hold a campaign event in a Miami megachurch on Friday to shore up support from Christian conservatives, after a prominent evangelical publication questioned whether the faithful should support the Republican.

Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden took in $22.7 million in the last three months of 2019, his campaign said in a statement on Thursday, a pickup in fundraising just weeks before voters kick off the party’s nominating process.

Elizabeth Warren raised $21.2 million for her White House bid during the final quarter of 2019, dropping slightly from the prior quarter but finishing the year with a late surge in donations on the day she delivered a New Year’s Eve speech, her campaign said on Friday.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, raised $11.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, more than doubling the previous quarter’s amount, according to a statement from her campaign.

A U.S. air strike in Baghdad that killed a top Iranian commander aimed to disrupt an “imminent attack” that would have endangered Americans in the Middle East, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in television interviews on Friday.

Iran promised harsh revenge after a U.S. air strike in Baghdad killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force and architect of its military influence in the Middle East.

Indonesia’s air force seeded clouds with salt to try to stop rainfall reaching the slowing sinking capital after deadly flash floods and landslides triggered by some of the heaviest rain recorded.

A U.S. appeals court on Friday began hearing arguments in a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to block former White House Counsel Don McGahn from testifying to a congressional committee as part of the impeachment effort against Trump.

Oil prices jumped nearly $3 a barrel and gold, the yen and safe-haven bonds all rallied on Friday, after the U.S. killing of Iran’s top military commander in an air strike in Iraq ratcheted up tensions between the two powers.

AP Top Stories

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday there were indications Iran or forces it backs may be planning additional attacks, warning that the “game has changed” and it was possible the United States might have to take preemptive action to protect American lives.

Ecologists at the University of Sydney told News.com.au that an estimated 480 million mammals, birds, and reptiles have died in the bushfires, which have been burning across Australia since September. Eight thousand of the animals deaths are believed to be koalas.

Raytheon Company’s RTN business unit, Missile Systems recently secured a $768.3 million contract to manufacture advanced medium range air to air missile (AMRAAM). Work related to the deal will be executed in Tucson, AZ.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said that the country will sell oil and part of the gold it produces for its national cryptocurrency petro.

For years, ultra-Orthodox Jewish families priced out of increasingly expensive Brooklyn neighborhoods have been turning to the suburbs, where they have taken advantage of open space and cheaper housing to establish modern-day versions of the European shtetls where their ancestors lived for centuries before the Holocaust. The expansion of Hasidic communities in New York’s Hudson Valley, the Catskills and northern New Jersey been accompanied by flare-ups of rhetoric aimed at new development that some say is cloaked anti-Semitism.

The U.S. government on Thursday began sending asylum-seekers back to Nogales, Mexico, to await court hearings that will be scheduled roughly 350 miles away in Juarez, Mexico.

The number of cases of a new type of viral pneumonia linked to a food market in central China has risen to 44, local health authorities said Friday, in an outbreak awakening fearful memories of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.

The US has said it is ready to fight against North Korea if necessary. As worldwide attention focused on the escalation of tensions between the US and Iran following the killing of General Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike, comments from Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that America remains ready for conflict with North Korea.

Kim Jong Un is giving up on hopes that U.S. President Donald Trump will lift sanctions anytime soon. Kim’s plan now is to find a way to survive under crushing economic sanctions while building an even stronger nuclear deterrent to force Washington to compromise.

The US has announced a countrywide ban on some e-cigarette flavors amid concerns about vaping among teens.

BBC

Scores of unidentified drones, flying at night and often in groups, have baffled officials in the neighboring states of Colorado and Nebraska. Witnesses have spotted the drones, which reportedly have six-foot (1.8m) wide wingspans, since mid-December.

Zambia is wrestling with a devastating drought caused, according to experts, by a dramatic shift in weather patterns.

WND

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., warned that if Democrats fail to deliver their articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate, he will introduce a measure on Monday to dismiss them.

The exodus from California is very real, and it now looks like the state will pay the price for chasing away so many residents. Besides the costly implications of fleeing consumers and capital, California now also stands to lose an entire congressional seat thanks to slow growth and migration out of the Golden State.

A new study found that New York was one of only 10 states to lose population between July of 2018 and July of 2019. The Empire Center found, via Census Bureau data, that 180,649 more residents had moved out of the state than moved in.


Mid-Day Snapshot · Jan. 3, 2020

The Foundation

“A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent enthusiasts.” —James Madison (1792)

Trump’s ‘Deal’ With Iran … Soleimani Dead

Contrasting Trump’s decisive action in Iran with Obama’s Middle East malfeasance.


Considering Trump on Trade

His strategy with tariffs has and will cause pain at home, but the end goal is worth the price.


Even Leftist Historians Rebuke 1619 Project

The New York Times’s blatant revisionist history is being criticized from all sides.


Socialist Sanders Tops Dem Field in Donations

Despite trailing in the polls, Sanders rakes in nearly $100 million in donations for the year.


Politics Makes for a Poor Savior

Previous generations learned that faith provides so much more than any politician who ever lived.



Today’s Opinion

David Limbaugh
Trump-Hating Leftists Usher in New Year of Trump Hatred
David Harsanyi
Texas’s Concealed-Carry Law Prevented Mass Murder
Rich Lowry
Historians Roast the 1619 Project
Adriana Cohen
Facts Are the Antidote to Trump Derangement Syndrome
Jonah Goldberg
Will EU’s Genetic Flaw Lead to Its Demise?
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Friday Top News Executive Summary

Iranian general neutralized, Marine Corps concealed carry, vaping ban, and more.


Friday Short Cuts

Notable quotables from Chris Murphy, Liz Warren, David French, and more.



Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

Headlines – 1/3/2020

Trump Envoy to Visit Israel, Discuss Middle East Peace Plan After Months of Standstill

Why doesn’t the US try to repeal the UN’s anti-settlements resolution?

Hamas outraged after Bennett seizes terrorists’ money

Top PLO official: Despite Israeli cuts, PA should keep accepting tax transfers

Israeli Army Shoots Palestinian Suspected of Attempted Stabbing Attack in West Bank

Heading to Greece to ink gas deal, Netanyahu says it will bring in hundreds of billions

Netanyahu in Athens: Historic alliance with Greece, Cyprus brings security

Turkey slams gas pipeline deal signed between Israel, Greece and Cyprus

Israel set to build advanced national communications satellite

Blue and White may try to oust speaker if he stalls on PM immunity – report

High Court rejects petition seeking to bar Netanyahu from forming government

Polls indicate no drop in support for Netanyahu after immunity request

NY Democrats condemn anti-Semitic attacks, but say unclear what’s fueling them

NYT calls for mass participation in solidarity march against anti-Semitism

Family of Hanukkah attack victim calls for end of hatred

Commentary: Antisemitism is now a Pandemic, but it must not become the New Normal!

Iran’s Republican Guards chief: We can ‘break’ US but are not heading for war

Trump orders attack that kills Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani, other military officials in Baghdad, Pentagon says

US kills Iran’s most powerful general in Baghdad airstrike

Iraq paramilitary chief slain alongside Soleimani was Tehran’s man in country

Attack on US Embassy exposes widening US-Iraq divide on Iran

‘Dangerous stalemate’: Attack on U.S. Embassy in Iraq part of Iran’s escalating aggression

US officials celebrate Baghdad strike while critics warn of war

Democrats call US killing of Soleimani ‘reckless,’ say Congress wasn’t notified

Iran crisis: US embassy urges its citizens to leave Iraq immediately

Iraq anti-govt protesters sing, dance after Soleimani death

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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther

January 3, 2020 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

36 Jesus overheard what the messengers said but ignored it. In an effort to encourage Jairus, he said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Jesus’ word of assurance must have been just what Jairus needed. He in no way tried to dissuade Jesus from resuming his journey to the child’s bedside.[1]


5:36 Don’t be afraid; just believe. Jairus is utterly devastated by the terrible news that while he was beseeching Jesus for help, his daughter had died. Everyone assumes that it is too late and so naturally concludes that there is no use to “bother the teacher anymore.” They need mourners now; it is too late for healers. Jesus is a great “teacher” but has power over illness only as long as there is life. Jairus had shown a modicum of faith when he had thrown himself at Jesus’s feet earlier. Now he needs more faith—the woman’s faith commended by Jesus in 5:34. He must “believe” like she did. As in 4:40, fear is the antithesis of faith, an earth-centered rather than God-centered reaction to life’s tragedies. As David Garland says, Jairus must realize “that faith is something that trusts in the midst of hopelessness.”[2]


36. Ignoring what was being spoken, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Fear not, only believe. Though Jesus hears the words of the messengers (Luke 8:50), he pays no attention to them. With majestic calmness he refuses completely to lend an ear to the heralds of doom, the messengers of despair. He wants Jairus to do the same.

Jairus is afraid. Now it is not easy to drive out fear. There is only one way to do it, namely, by firmly believing in the presence, promises, pity, and power of God in Christ. It takes the positive to drive out the negative (Rom. 12:21).

Throughout the history of redemption it has ever been thus. When it seemed that all was lost, believers placed their trust in God and were delivered (Ps. 22:4; Isa. 26:3, 4; 43:2). This was true with respect to Abraham (Gen. 22:2; James 2:22), Moses (Exod. 14:10 f.; 32:10, 30–32), David (1 Sam. 17:44–47; Ps. 27), and Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 20:1, 2, 12), to mention but a few. When the need was highest help was nighest.

This was true also in the case of Jairus. The word of encouragement was not in vain. He took it to heart (Matt. 9:18) and was heard.[3]


36. And so to Jairus as well as to the disciples comes the command to abstain from fear and, instead, to only believe. The one condition of God’s working is that we trust him: this is not an arbitrary demand, but a demand necessarily springing from the very nature of the relation between Godhead and humanity. We are called to trusting, dependent love and obedience, for this is the biblical meaning of faith, not merely intellectual assent. Such faith is the only fitting expression of our helplessness, and the only fitting acknowledgment of God’s power; and so it is an essential to salvation, though it is only the means of God’s working, and not the source. This is what distinguishes the miracles of Jesus from so-called ‘faith healings’ brought about by mechanical psychological means alone: this is also what distinguishes them from mere magic, with no moral or religious content.[4]


Ver. 36. Be not afraid, only believe.

Only believe:—The circumstances in which our Lord uttered these simple but memorable words … Did He say this for the sake of Jairus alone? Nay, surely not! I take these precious words of our Lord, and now especially apply them to one who is seeking forgiveness, but who feels as if he need scarcely hope, as if he could never be a child of God, &c. If you have some such feelings, it is just to you I say, “Be not afraid, only believe!” 1. There are some, many, alas! and the Bible scarcely contains a word which I should not sooner think of addressing to them than, “Be not afraid!” O that I could make them be afraid! Who are they? Persons who are not, and perhaps never were troubled with fear about their souls. God is too merciful to cast them out, or they are not wicked enough to be lost, or they are sure to be converted before they die, or they can make up for past defects by good living for the future. 2. But to thee who like Jairus art troubled in heart and seeking help from Christ, and over whose hopes dark feelings pass, as if it was all in vain, all too late—to thee I say, “Be not afraid!” While a man remains indifferent as to his soul, the great deceiver seeks to persuade him that nothing is so easy as salvation; but the moment conscience becomes awake, and the man begins in earnest to ask, What must I do to be saved? the deceiver changes his voice. Now, nothing is so difficult, so impossible, as salvation. Before, it was too soon; now, it is too late. “Be not afraid, only believe!” (1) Be not afraid that the day of grace is past. Why are you thinking upon your soul? Because God is still calling you, &c. While you have one desire in your heart to say, “Lord Jesus, if Thou wilt have mercy on such as I, here I lay me at Thy feet, O save me!” your day of grace is not, cannot be, past. (2) Be not afraid that your sins are too many. I do not believe you have any idea how many they really are. But you must not think that they are greater than the mercies of God. 3. When He said to Jairus, “Only believe,” what idea did it convey? Simply, trust to Me. You are not walking with Him side by side; you cannot look into His countenance or hear the unearthly power of His words. But He is as close to you as He was to Jairus. When He said “Only believe,” the hopeless father had no alternative but either to feel He is not trusted, or to feel He will save her after all. Had he looked down to the ground, probably he would have felt the first. If he looked full into the face of Jesus, he would feel, He cannot lie: it seems impossible, but I must trust Thee. So with you. (1) Believe that He is able to save thee. Make out as bad a case against yourself as ever you can. In full knowledge of this, fix your helpless soul upon His atonement, upon His intercession. (2) Believe that He is willing to save you. The Lord has sealed His willingness with these words, “Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.” (3) Believe that He is ready to save you. “But I am not prepared”: He is. (4) Believe that He will save you. This you must do. The woman came saying, “If I may but touch the hem of His garment, I shall be made whole.” It was this faith that saved her. (William Arthur, M.A.)

Be not afraid, only believe:—This exhortation has two sides—the negative and the positive.

  1. In its negative aspect. (1) it does not apply to the reckless and the ungodly, for there is never a period of their lives in which they ought not to fear. They have to fear—life and death, present, past, and future, earth and heaven, time and eternity. The very breath they breathe may be charged with its mission of judicial punishment; (2) but to those who are striving to live in accordance with the requirements of the Divine will. When the soul has found her foundation to be the Rock of Ages, and her rest in God; when the earnest of the Divine Spirit is received and felt as a quickening power, then there is no need for alarm.
  2. In its positive aspect (1) it indicates a means by which we may obtain release from causes which justify fear. Christ is the central object of trust. He is able to save, and He is willing. Here is a strong and lasting foundation; (2) it is just the message needed by those who are turning away from the spirit of the world, who feel it cannot meet their wants when the heart stoops with grief, and when its fondest ties are being broken. It may be, that when they turn to God, great difficulties present themselves. Old habits are strong, the tendencies of the passions are earthward, and religion seems gloomy and unattractive. Besides, a deep sense of guilt and shame oppress the soul. Thus the trial of faith is severe. Still the remedy is simple. Trust wholly in God, and submit yourself to Him. “Only believe” is to acknowledge God’s power and one’s own helplessness. It is a thing of instinct and of reason. (W. D. Horwood.)

Only believe:

  1. Faith. It is faith that sends him on this errand; faith in Jesus as a healer, for at first his faith only reached thus far. But Jesus leads him on; and ends with realizing in Him the raiser of the dead. Faith often begins with little and ends in much; it begins with a trickling streamlet, and ends with a full broad river.
  2. Faith giving way. Does not faith often fail thus? We can go to Him for a little thing; not for a great. Instead of feeling that the worse the case the greater the glory to His power and love, we stop short, and cease to expect anything from Him.

III. Faith strengthened. “Fear not,” &c.

  1. Faith victorious. The victory is resurrection.
  2. Unbelief rebuked. Excluded from the glorious spectacle. (H. Bonar, D.D.)

Only believe:

  1. Concerning this fear. 1. Fearfulness is common in applicants to the Saviour, and it springs from such sources as the following: (1) Ignorance of the power and resources of the Saviour. We may believe that He can heal disease, but doubt that He can raise the dead. (2) From morbid imagination of danger and of mischief. These we exaggerate. (3) Hardness of heart towards Christ’s chief display of love, especially that manifestation of His mercy which He has given by dying for us. (4) Then there is the memory and the consciousness of sin. 2. There can be nothing in the circumstances of an applicant to Jesus Christ to justify fear. Jesus does not reject you for sin, weakness, sadness—nothing is difficult to Him. He will do all at the right time. 3. Fearfulness when cherished is positively displeasing to the Saviour. It is groundless, dishonouring, injurious to ourselves.
  2. Concerning trust. 1. Trust in Jesus is His due. 2. It is not always easy. 3. Are you all applicants to Jesus Christ? “Be not afraid.” Trust for the knowledge which is essential to life and salvation. (S. Martin.)

The charge of Christ under affliction:—1. When difficulties are numerous and complicated. 2. When temptations are powerful and malignant. 3. When sickness occurs and is continued. 4. When bereaving providences are experienced. 5. What is the character and influence of our faith under these painful circumstances? (T. Wallace.)

Faith:—Much is said in the Word of God of the principle of faith. The place that it occupies in the scheme of redemption is a very important one. It is essential to salvation. Without it we must remain destitute of all its blessings. This will be evident if we apply it—

  1. To the general doctrine of salvation. To every inquirer for salvation we say, “Only believe.” Not that faith is the originating cause of salvation, for that were to deny the free grace of God; nor that faith is the procuring cause of salvation, for that were to set aside the efficacy of Christ’s atonement; nor that faith is the efficient cause of salvation, for that were to set aside the agency of the Holy Spirit: but we say that faith is the instrumental cause of salvation, that without the exercise of which no individual can experience salvation. This is the doctrine of the gospel (Acts 16:31; 13:39; Eph. 2:8; Romans 3:20–28; 5:1). 1. This method of salvation conveys most glory to God. 2. This method of salvation alone produces real obedience. 3. This method is in accordance with the other parts of redemption. Let us apply the principle before us—
  2. To the case of the true penitent.

III. To Christian believers.

  1. To the trials and sufferings of the Christian life. It is applicable—1. To seasons of temptation. 2. To seasons of afflictive providences. (W. M. Bunting.)

Believing:

  1. The persons to whom the text is applicable. The case of Jairus. There was an evil he wanted to remove. A danger he wanted to prevent. A blessing he wanted to procure. 1. The first qualification of souls coming to Jesus is a sense of want, some evil to be removed, &c. 2. This sense of want brings us out of ourselves—out of dependence on mere external means. 3. The expression of our wants in earnest supplication. 4. Jairus came to Christ in faith.
  2. The nature of the delightful duty and privilege. 1. Fear is a painful feeling, arising from the apprehension of some evil. A man at the feet of Jesus need not indulge in tormenting fear, for there is no evil he is in danger of but he may be saved from—no blessing he needs but he may secure. “Fear not,” &c. 2. What is this believing—what is faith? Sometimes it is called looking, receiving, &c.

III. The right you have to all the encouragement in the text. 1. If you have the sense of need, and if you are at the feet of Jesus, then you have an absolute, personal, Scriptural right to appropriate the salvation of God as your own. You are just where a sinner ought to be, &c. 2. You have a right because you comply with the invitation. 3. You are at the central point of all the promises. All “yea and amen” in Him. 4. Will you still indulge in tormenting fear? “Yes,” says one, “You don’t know what reason I have to fear,” &c. Enumerate the various sources of fear, and show that no sinner need fear who is truly penitent and at the feet of Jesus. (W. Dawson.)

Only believe:—Mr. Moody was one night preaching in Philadelphia; near the pulpit sat a young lady, who listened with eager attention, drinking in every word. After he had done talking, he went to her. “Are you a Christian?” “No,” she replied, “I wish I was; I’ve been seeking Jesus for three years.” Mr. Moody replied, “There must be some mistake.” “Don’t you believe me?” said the distressed girl. “Well, no doubt you think you have been seeking Jesus; but, believe me, it don’t take three years for a seeking soul to meet a seeking Saviour.” “What am I to do, then?” “You have been trying to do long enough; you must just believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Oh!” said the young lady, “I am so tired of that word: ‘Believe,’ ‘believe,’ ‘believe!’ I don’t know what it means.” “Then we’ll change the word, and say, ‘trust.’ ” “If I say, ‘I’ll trust Him,’ will He save me?” “I don’t say that, for you may say ten thousand things; but if you do trust Him, He certainly will.” “Well,” said she, “I do trust him; but I don’t feel any better!” “Ah!” said Mr. Moody, “I see; you’ve been looking for feelings for three years, instead of looking to Jesus.” If the translators of the Bible had everywhere inserted “feelings” instead of “faith,” what a run there would be upon the book. But God does not say a word about feelings from Genesis to Revelation. With men “seeing is believing” but with the believer “believing is seeing.” An orphan child was once asked by her little friend, “What do you do without a mother to tell your troubles to?” “Mother told me to go to Jesus; He was mother’s Friend, and He’s my Friend too,” was the simple reply. “But He is a long way off; He won’t stop to mind you.” Her face brightened, as she said: “I don’t know about that, but I know He says He will, and that’s enough for me.” And should not that be enough for you and me? (Anon.)[5]


5:36

NASB

 

“overhearing what was being spoken”

 

NKJV

 

“as soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken”

 

NRSV, NJB

 

“overhearing what they said”

 

TEV

 

“Jesus paid no attention to what they said”

 

NIV

 

“ignoring what they said”

 

The Greek root means “to hear carelessly.” It can be understood as “ignore” or “overhear.” This term is so ambiguous that very early the scribes changed it to the term “hear” (cf. MSS אa, A, C, D, and K), which is found in the Lukan parallel, 8:50.

“ ‘Do not be afraid any longer’ ” This is a PRESENT IMPERATIVE with a NEGATIVE PARTICLE which usually means stop an act in process. The opposite of fear is faith!

“ ‘only believe’ ” This is another PRESENT ACTIVE IMPERATIVE. Such a simple, but crucial, statement (cf. Acts 16:31).[6]


[1] Wessel, W. W., & Strauss, M. L. (2010). Mark. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 775). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Osborne, G. R. (2014). Mark. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 88). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Vol. 10, pp. 211–212). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Cole, R. A. (1989). Mark: An Introduction and Commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 166–167). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Exell, J. S. (n.d.). The Biblical Illustrator: St. Mark (pp. 221–223). London: James Nisbet & Co.

[6] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). The Gospel according to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter (Vol. Volume 2, p. 66). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

January 3 Trust the Character of God

Psalm 71:5

You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth.

Sometimes during trials we focus so intently on our experience that we forget to focus on God. But the psalmist didn’t. Over and over in this psalm he calls to mind the character and attributes of God: His glory, His power and strength, and His faithfulness.

And five times he mentions God’s righteousness. The one thing that we must never lose sight of in the midst of our own suffering is the righteousness and goodness of God. It is because of God’s inherent goodness that we are able to trust Him in all things.

When you are in the middle of trials, everyone will have an opinion or a suggestion or a remedy—and if they are from people you trust, you should consider them. But after all is said and done, there is only one thing that you can put all your trust in, and that is the character of God.[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 4). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY – JANUARY 3

A Necessary Daily Exercise

Why is it that my thoughts wander so quickly from God’s word, and that in my hour of need the needed word is often not there? Do I forget to eat and drink and sleep? Then why do I forget God’s word? Because I still can’t say what the psalmist says: “I will delight in your statutes” (Ps. 119:16). I don’t forget the things in which I take delight. Forgetting or not forgetting is a matter not of the mind but of the whole person, of the heart. I never forget what body and soul depend upon. The more I begin to love the commandments of God in creation and word, the more present they will be for me in every hour. Only love protects against forgetting.

Because God’s word has spoken to us in history and thus in the past, the remembrance and repetition of what we have learned is a necessary daily exercise. Every day we must turn again to God’s acts of salvation, so that we can again move forward.… Faith and obedience live on remembrance and repetition. Remembrance becomes the power of the present because of the living God who once acted for me and who reminds me of that today.

In our meditation we ponder the chosen text on the strength of the promise that it has something utterly personal to say to us for this day and for our Christian life, that it is not only God’s word for the Church, but also God’s word for us individually. We expose ourselves to the specific word until it addresses us personally. And when we do this, we are doing no more than the simplest, untutored Christian does every day; we read God’s word as God’s word for us.

Bonhoeffer, Life Together

I treasure your word in my heart,

so that I may not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O Lord;

teach me your statutes.

With my lips I declare

all the ordinances of your mouth.

I delight in the way of your decrees

as much as in all riches.

I will meditate on your precepts,

and fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in your statutes;

I will not forget your word.

Deal bountifully with your servant,

so that I may live and observe your word.

Open my eyes, so that I may behold

wondrous things out of your law.

Psalm 119:11–18[1]

 

[1] Bonhoeffer, D. (2010). God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas. (J. Riess, Ed., O. C. Dean Jr., Trans.) (First edition, pp. 84–85). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

January 3 – The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

January 3.—Morning. [Or January 5.]
“Jesus Christ is Lord.”

OUR last reading showed us man fresh from the hand of his Maker. It will be well to pause and consider the Lord’s goodness to our race. We cannot find a fitter assistance for our meditation than David’s joyful vintage hymn.

Psalm 8

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. (It is a part of the excellence and glory of God that he magnifies himself by means of insignificant creatures. Though his name is excellent in all the earth yet babes may praise it, and though his glory be above the heavens sucklings may proclaim it. It needs a great orator to win men’s admiration for a doubtful character; but so surpassingly glorious is the Lord, that even a child’s tongue suffices to baffle his foes, and charm his friends.)

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (The heavens are so vast and he so small; the moon so bright and he so mean; the stars so glorious and he so grovelling; Lord, how canst thou stoop from the sublimities of heaven to visit such a nothing as man? The study of astronomy is calculated to humble the mind as well as to enlarge it: and at the same time it excites adoring gratitude when we see the Lord lavishing his love upon creatures so insignificant as ourselves.)

For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Since he is mortal and angels are immortal, man is a little lower than they; yet it is but for a little time and then man’s coronation with glory and honour shall have come. Then shall it be seen that angels are but servants to the saints, and that all creatures work for their benefit.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:

All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;

The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. (All these creatures he either tames to his hand, or slays for his use. His fear and dread are on them all. Marred as man’s dominion is, he still walks among the inferior animals with something of that awe, which, as a poet saith, “doth hedge a king.” In Adam’s innocence man’s rule of the lower races was no doubt complete and delightful; one imagines him leaning upon a tawny lion, while a fawn frisks at the side of Eve. In the Lord Jesus, however, we see man most eminently in the place of honour, exalted in the highest. We know that the position of our Lord Jesus is a representative one for all his people, for the numbers are like the Head. In Jesus man is indeed “crowned with glory and honour.” It is both our duty and our privilege to rise superior to all the things of earth. We must take care to keep the world under our feet, and the creatures in their proper place. Let none of us permit the possession of any earthly creatures to be a snare unto us; we are to reign over them, and must not permit them to reign over us.)

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

Lord, what is man, or all his race,

Who dwell so far below,

That thou shouldst visit him with grace,

And love his nature so?

That thine eternal Son should bear

To take a mortal form,

Made lower than his angels are,

To save a dying worm?

Let him be crown’d with majesty

Who bow’d his head to death;

And be his honours sounded high

By all things that have breath.

 

We raise our shouts, O God, to thee,

And send them to thy throne;

All glory to the united Three,

The undivided One.

’Twas he, and we’ll adore his name,

That form’d us by a word;

’Tis he restores our ruin’d frame:

Salvation to the Lord!

January 3.—Evening. [Or January 6.]
“Rest in the Lord.”

WE have grouped together a few of the texts which refer to the Sabbath, in order that at one reading we may have the subject before us. In the history of the creation, we have the institution of the sacred day of rest.

Genesis 2:1–3

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

This primitive institution was confirmed at the giving of the Law upon Sinai; and is therefore surrounded by as solemn sanctions as any other precept of the Decalogue.

Exodus 20:8–11

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

WE are not, however, to regard this law as forbidding the doing of works of piety, charity, or necessity, for our Lord Jesus has awarded us full liberty on these points. He corrected Jewish misconceptions, and taught us not to make a bondage of the day of rest.

Mark 2:23–28

23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.

24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?

25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?

26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?

27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

OUR Lord performed many of his noblest cures on the Sabbath, as if to show that the day was ordained to glorify God by yielding benefit to man. If at one time more than another the healing virtue flows freely from our Lord, it is on that one day in seven which is reserved for holy uses, and is called “the Lord’s Day.” In the passage which we are about to read he shows how suitable it is that a holy day should be crowned with holy deeds of mercy and love.

Luke 14:1–5

And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;

And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

O day of rest and gladness,

O day of joy and light,

O balm of care and sadness,

Most beautiful, most bright!

Thou art a cooling fountain

In life’s dry, dreary sand;

From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain,

We view our promised land.

May we, new graces gaining

From this our day of rest,

Attain the rest remaining

To spirits of the blest;

And there our voice upraising

To Father and to Son,

And Holy Ghost, be praising

Ever the Three in One.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 5–6). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

January 3 Thoughts for the quiet hour

Where art thou?

Gen. 3:9

Art thou hiding thyself away from Him who would send thee forth to do His own blessed work in His own way? Oh, let me say to thee this morning, “The Lord hath need of thee.” It may seem to be only a little thing He has for you to do, but it is an important one. He has “need of thee.” Turn not thy back upon Him; put not thyself out of the way of being employed by Him; do not begin by laying down laws for thyself as to what thou wilt do and what thou wilt not do; but cry out from the very depth of thy heart, “Here am I! Send me.”

  1. Hay Aitken[1]

 

[1] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

The Decline and Fall of the Black American Church — American Thinker

The results of diluting religion with politics can readily be seen in the black community.

In the old days, freed slaves were offered 40 acres and a mule if they voted Republican.  They never got their acres or mules, but the Republican Party held a lock on black voters for many decades.

In the modern era, beginning with Lyndon Johnson, black voters were similarly wooed with the false promises of the Great Society.  As a result, it was next the Democratic Party that got a lock on black votes — but with that came a required commitment to the party’s entire agenda.  This was so, no matter how far that agenda transgressed the limits of traditional Christian morality and faith.

Thereafter, by a wide margin, modern black voters (more than 90% in most cases) found themselves backing abortion, gay rights, the removal of religion from public life, and massive welfare programs that resulted in the destruction of the black family.  If the Episcopal Church could once have been called the Republican Party at prayer, the black church could have been called the Democratic Party at prayer.

But the results of diluting religion with politics can readily be seen. 

In Monsey, site of the recent attack, observant Jews live in a community in which children play safely on the street and doors are not locked even after dark.  Families are intact.  Studying is encouraged and intense.  Every few blocks, there are a synagogue and a rabbi. 

On sabbaths and other occasions, fathers ritually place their hands on their children’s heads and pronounce a blessing: “May you be like Ephraim and Manasseh” (or Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, in the case of girls).  “May God turn His face toward you and grant you peace.”  Then the children are embraced and kissed.

Imagine if in the inner-city black fathers would weekly bless their children in this way — to imbue their kids with the sense that they belong, that they are loved, and that they can have a great future ahead of them (regardless of external circumstances).

But where would the fathers be found?  In New York, 75% of the black children are born out of wedlock.  In Detroit, the figure is more than 80%.  Gangs take the place of extended families.  Learning is ridiculed as “acting white.” 

A few years ago, my mother tutored a four-year-old black girl in pre-K at a Richmond, Va. public school[.] … One afternoon in February, my mother was explaining to the little girl the meaning of Valentine’s Day’s [sic].  Helping the child make a card for her mother, my mother told her that she was going to give Valentine’s Day cards to special people like her husband and her children.

The little girl looked up at my mother in disbelief, asking, “You can have a husband?”  Slightly shocked and a little taken aback, my mother simply responded, “Yes.”

How did a church once so proudly Christian forfeit its influence on society?

This is not a “black” problem.  Christian churches in Africa (as opposed to mislabeled “African-American” churches) have reacted in a different manner to offers of aid that come with political strings attached.  Dr. Jerry Kulah, dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology, Liberia, said:

So if anyone is so naive or condescending as to think we would sell our birth right in Jesus Christ for American dollars, then they simply do not know us[.] … 

Please understand me when I say the vast majority of African United Methodists will never, ever trade Jesus and the truth of the Bible for money.

Pastors are shepherds assigned to guard their flocks against the wolves.  (The very word “pastor” derives from “shepherd.”)  Modern wolves arrive with checkbooks instead of fangs, but their goal is the same.

One could wish that when the Great Society was first proposed, and politicians began to pander for votes, black pastors had been resolute and turned down the money and the welfare programs with thanks, insisting that they would go their own way.  The cost of compromise was too great.  And it was a chimera.

But the churches did not blink at embracing Farrakhan, sexual confusion, and smearing Jews, even within the walls of the church itself (as during the Duke lacrosse case).  What became paramount was solidarity with the brotherhood of the aggrieved, right or wrong.  Pastors will bestir themselves for many causes in the inner cities, but their children roam the streets, lost.  The wolves have divided the flock.

It was a devil’s bargain, and those who made it have reaped the devil’s pay.

Maybe it’s time to forget the mule and the tinsel promises of the politicians and opt out of playing at being this world’s love interest.  (The Bible has a lot to say about playing the harlot with the world.) 

It’s not too late for the inner-city churches to reassert their role as shepherds, or to turn the inner cities, absent any external or government help, into Christian versions of Monsey.  Dr. Jerry Kulah again:

Friends, not too long ago my country was ravaged by a terrible civil war.  And then we faced the outbreak of the Ebola virus.  We are keenly familiar with hardship and sorrow, but Jesus has led us through every trial.  So nothing that happens over the next few days will deter us from following Him, and Him alone.

We will persevere in the race before us.  We will remain steadfast and faithful.  And some day we will wear the victor’s crown of glory with our King Jesus!  Come walk with us!

via The Decline and Fall of the Black American Church — American Thinker

January 3, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

† 4:12 — “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

If God knew that Jesus really did not have to die, then He is an uncaring monster for sending Him to the cross. And if He thought Jesus had to die when He really didn’t, then He wouldn’t be God.[1]


12 A second early christological motif in Peter’s proclamation is that of “God’s Salvation.” In the longer Isaiah scroll of the Dead Sea Scrolls, “God’s Salvation” and “Salvation” appear as Jewish designations for the expected Davidic Messiah (cf. 1QIsa 51:4–5, which uses the third person masculine suffix and pronoun in connection with the expression “my Salvation”). Likewise, “Salvation” is used as a messianic title in other Qumran texts (cf. CD 9:43, 54; 1QH 7.18–19; 4Q174 on 2 Sa 7:14 and in connection with Am 9:11), in various intertestamental writings (cf. Jub. 31:19; also T. Dan 5:10; T. Naph. 8:3; T. Gad 8:1; T. Jos. 19:11, though the provenance of the Greek version of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is debated), and in the rabbinic materials (cf. b. Ber. 56b–57a).

Luke has already stressed this early christological motif in Zechariah’s hymn of praise (Lk 1:69, “a horn of salvation”), in Simeon’s prayer (Lk 2:30, “your salvation”), and in introducing the ministry of John the Baptist (Lk 3:6, “God’s salvation”). Now in addressing the Sanhedrin, to whom such a messianic designation was doubtless well known, Peter proclaims, “Salvation is found in no one else [i.e., than in “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead” (v. 10)], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (v. 12). There was nothing of compromise or accommodation in Peter’s preaching. As this magnificent declaration shows, he was wholly committed to the uniqueness of Jesus as the only Savior. Peter and the other apostles never watered down the fact that apart from Jesus there is no salvation for anyone.[2]


12 And from the once rejected but now glorified Jesus, and from him alone, comes true saving health. The deliverance of the cripple from a bodily affliction might serve as a parable of deliverance from the guilt of sin and from judgment to come. If the rulers persisted in their repudiation of Jesus, which had already involved them in blood-guiltiness, no deliverance from its consequences could be hoped for from any other quarter or by the power of any other name. The name of Jesus, by which the cripple had been empowered to spring to his feet and walk, was the name with which Israel’s salvation (and, as was to appear later, the salvation of the world) was inextricably bound up. The course of duty and wisdom for the rulers was therefore clear; if they refused it and persisted in their present attitude, they would bring destruction on their nation as well as on themselves.

The founders of the great world-religions are not to be disparaged by followers of the Christian way. But of none of them can it be said that there is no saving health in anyone else; to one alone belongs the title: the Savior of the world.[3]


4:12 / The Christian use of Psalm 118:22 had been suggested by Jesus himself, who had quoted it in answer to much the same question as that put to the apostles on this occasion (v. 7; cf. Luke 20:1–18). In Jesus’ case, he had gone on to speak in terms of Isaiah 8:14f. and Daniel 2:35, of the stone as destroying those who rejected it. Here Peter points to the other side of that coin by presenting the stone as the source of salvation. It is worth noticing that in 1 Peter 2:6f. he mentions both sides (cf. also Rom. 9:33; Eph. 2:20) and the connecting link in his thought there, as perhaps here between verses 11 and 12, is Isaiah 28:16, which appears to have been interpreted of the Messiah in the Aramaic versions of the Old Testament, or targums. Peter was thinking now, not simply of the miracle of the lame man, but of what that miracle signified—generally, the whole salvation of humanity, to which “the name” was as essential as it had been in this particular case of healing (see note on 2:38 for “the name”). In Jewish thought the Messiah was never essential to the kingdom, which could be spoken of as coming either with or without him. But the Christians had learned that their Messiah was indispensable. One preposition is used twice in this verse (Gk. en, translated variously “through” and “by” but most characteristically meaning “in”). It gives the sense that Christ is both the agent and, as it were, the location of our salvation; he brought it about and only in him can we find it (cf. John 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5f.). The use of the word “must” (see disc. on 1:16), together with the statement that God has given this name, reminds us that this is his appointed way of salvation. There is no other way. For the Christian message as the announcement of salvation (see 13:26, 47; 16:17).[4]


12. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We make these observations:

  • Salvation proclaimed. “Salvation is found in no one else.” This text is among the well-known and cherished passages in Acts. Peter challenges his immediate audience but at the same time speaks to all people who seek salvation. He addresses learned and influential men in the Sanhedrin whose work consisted of showing the people of Israel the way of salvation. They did so by telling the Jews to perform works that would earn them salvation. But Peter preaches that salvation can be obtained in no way other than through the name of Jesus Christ. The salvation he preaches comprises both physical and spiritual healing.19 They see the evidence of physical healing in the man who used to be a cripple. But they must understand that spiritual well-being includes forgiveness of sin and a restored relationship with God. No one in Peter’s audience is able to point to any person who grants salvation, because everyone needs salvation himself. Hence, they should realize that they can have peace with God only through Jesus Christ.
  • Name given. “There is no other name under heaven given among men.” The name Jesus reveals the task of the Savior, because the name means “he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). That is, he heals people physically from the effect of sin, but more than that, he removes sin itself so that people can stand before the judgment seat of God as if they had never sinned at all. Jesus makes them spiritually whole by restoring them in true relation to God the Father. Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). No person but Jesus has the ability to provide remission of sin. “Through his name everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins” (10:43).

Peter resorts not to an overstatement but rather to a descriptive idiom when he says that there is no other name under heaven than the name Jesus. Nowhere in the entire world is man able to find another name (i.e., person) that offers the salvation Jesus provides. Religions other than Christianity fail because they stress salvation by works and not by grace. The name Jesus has been given to men by God himself to show that salvation has its origin in God.

  • Believers saved. “[No other name] by which we must be saved.” The Greek text is specific. It does not say that we can be saved, for this would indicate that man has inherent ability to achieve salvation. Nor does it say that we may be saved, for then the clause would convey uncertainty. The text is definite. It says: “by which we must be saved.” The word must reveals a divine necessity which God has established, according to his plan and decree, to save us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, this word signifies that man is under moral obligation to respond to the call to believe in Jesus Christ and thus gain salvation. He has no recourse to salvation other than through the Son of God.[5]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ac 4:12). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[2] Longenecker, R. N. (2007). Acts. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 774–775). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts (pp. 93–94). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Williams, D. J. (2011). Acts (pp. 82–83). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 155–156). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

God’s Way of Making Peace — Unlocking the Bible

Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).

When you make peace, you reflect the likeness of God. People see a reflection of His glory. Think about how God makes peace, and what it’s going to take for you to do this hard work.

God’s Way of Making Peace

1. Don’t stand on your rights

Christ was in the form of God. But He did not grasp what was His by right.

He left heaven. He stepped down. He came into the world for us. Why? To make peace. You will not make peace by standing on your rights.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “If God stood upon his rights and dignity, upon his person, every one of us… would be consigned to hell and absolute perdition.” [1]

We live in a world of rights, where people often say, “It’s my right.” It may be your right, and there may be times when it is appropriate to insist on your rights, but what is the best way to make peace?

Every time you think about your rights, remind yourself, “If God stood on His rights, I would be in hell forever and so would everyone else.” You don’t make peace by standing on your rights.

2. Move toward the trouble.

But don’t move toward all trouble. Some people are drawn to trouble. They look for fights because they want to get involved. People like that are obviously not Christians.

Our calling is to act as peacemakers, and where you can be a peacemaker, you will move toward the trouble. That is what God did in the incarnation.

A wise person once gave me good counsel on dealing with situations of conflict: “Always move towards the barking dog.” That’s never my inclination. If a dog is barking, that’s the last thing I want to do. My instinct is to back off.

When the world was barking at God, He did not back off. He moved towards us. He came to us, and what did that lead to?  The shedding of His blood on the cross.

Making peace does not mean avoiding conflict

Peacemakers often cause trouble in pursuing peace. I believe that is what Jesus was referring to when He said, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:24). When the peacemaker came there was an outpouring of violence against Him. People took sides over Him.

Christ came to make peace between men and God. He moved towards the trouble, but when He came the trouble flared. That will often be the experience of a peacemaker. Peacemaking is not for the faint-hearted—it takes immense courage. It’s the most dangerous job in the world! For Jesus it meant laying down His life.

3. Love before you are loved in return.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Amazing! Could you do that? Could you love and keep loving where love is not returned? Of course not… unless the Spirit of Jesus were to actually live in you.

Here’s a prayer that you could make your own:

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there’s doubt true faith in you.

O master grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul
Make me a channel of your peace. [2]

This is an excerpt from Pastor Colin’s sermon, “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” from his series Momentum, Volume 2.

____________________

[1] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,” p. 108, Eerdmans, 1984

[2] This prayer is attributed to St. Francis of Asissi, 1181-1226

via God’s Way of Making Peace — Unlocking the Bible

01/03/20 We Are His — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Psalm 100

Psalm 100 is one of my favorite psalms, simply because it so strongly focuses on praising the Lord. The cry of our heart should be for all the nations to “shout triumphantly to the Lord” (Psa 100:1), singing His praises and expressing their gratitude. We should serve Him with joy in our heart, knowing that we’re “his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psa 100:3). He loves us and leads us as His flock; indeed, He loves us with a “faithful love” that “endures forever” (Psa 100:5). Generation after generation—including those who’ve gone before us and those who will come after us—are the objects of His adoration.

“We are,” the text says, “his” (Psa 100:3)—a powerful word of affirmation and grace.

So, today, I cannot do much more than halt my typing and just praise the Lord God. Would you join me in the same, perhaps by following the model of Psalm 100?

Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to the Lord!
Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
He made us, and we are his—his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and bless his name.
For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness, through all generations.

PRAYER: “I praise You today, Lord, for You are good.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Psalm 150

via 01/03/20 We Are His — ChuckLawless.com